By Lizann Lightfoot, 2019 Armed Forces Insurance Coronado Naval Amphibious Base Spouse of the Year.

Sometimes the smallest acts of kindness can have long-term effects. You never know what doors will open when you help out fellow military families.

Brian Alvarado, a Navy spouse, has witnessed the increasing opportunities through volunteering in the military community. He initially helped one new young military spouse find employment while volunteering as FRG President for his husband’s command. After being named the 2016 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year for Coronado, California, and the 2018 Armed Forces Insurance Navy Spouse of the Year, he now has the opportunity to promote military spouse employment through Hiring Our Heroes in Washington D.C.

This is one example of Armed Forces Insurance (AFI) supporting and celebrating military spouses who are doing good deeds in their community.

When Alvarado was first nominated as his base’s Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year, he had never heard of the award. The Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year (MSOY) program is an annual award that recognizes outstanding military spouses from all branches, representing most military bases. They are nominated for their community outreach efforts and volunteer work. “In 2016, I was introduced to this international network of military spouses that are doing incredible work to improve the lives of our military families in so many different aspects,” said Alvarado. “I had no idea some of those programs existed! I didn’t know anyone else was working on employment opportunities for military spouses.”

While volunteering as FRG President, Alvarado met a 19-year-old spouse of a deployed service member. She was going to college online, but the couple was struggling financially and living over an hour from his San Diego base due to the high cost of living. Alvarado, who had lived in the area for several years, realized he could help. “I reached out to my network and told them about this young, intelligent spouse,” he said. “The next day I got a call and set up an interview. She nailed the interview and got an entry level position that she wanted. Years later, she is still with that company, her position is now remote, and she makes more money than her service member.”

Making a positive difference in a milspouse’s life had a big impact on Alvarado. He began volunteering with Hiring Our Heroes (HOH), where he was a lead for the Military Spouse Professional Network program. As he recalled, “I felt pure joy and pride in our military and dove into the world of helping with underemployment and career opportunities for military spouses.”

When Alvarado was nominated as the 2018 Armed Forces Insurance Navy Spouse of the Year, the program put him in a national spotlight and allowed him to bring his employment efforts to the next level. “It opened a lot of doors and introduced me to lots of people I wouldn’t have met — including the people who hired me at HOH,” Alvarado said. “I wouldn’t have met them if I wasn’t part of the AFI MSOY program. That is the true power of what this program can do if you respect it and are humble about it.”

Alvarado claims that the program completely changed his life. “I stepped away from corporate America and joined the HOH network in Washington DC because that commitment became incredibly important to me. AFI helped me get on the Ellen Show and talk about HOH where she gave a check to the organization. I spoke at annual conferences and discussed spouse unemployment and employment opportunities for transitioning service members in our veteran communities.”

With AFI’s MSOY platform to elevate him, Alvarado is now pleased to be working for Hiring Our Heroes in Washington D.C., where he works as the Deputy Director of Workforce Development on the military spouse team. HOH’s mission is a great fit for Alvarado’s passion. “HOH is the tip of the spear when it comes to employment opportunities and professional development. They keep their focus there. It has been a joy to take my passion and share it with people. It isn’t about us, it’s who we are serving.”

Alvarado loves watching spouses go through the programs and find successful work. “Military spouses tend to live in the shadow of their service members,” he added.“I’m here to tell them they can do both: have a fulfilling career and support their service member.” AFI has given him the opportunity to make a national impact doing what he loves.

AFI is clearly committed to the military. Alvarado says that their sponsorship of the MSOY program isn’t just about voting for winners. AFI leaders are personally and emotionally invested. “AFI exemplifies passion for the military community,” he said. “They choose people to elevate and highlight for the work they are doing in the military community. There are people who are testifying in front of Congress and got all their connections through the MSOY program. I was recently sitting in front of the Second Lady’s office doing a personal interview about military spouse unemployment. I am taken aback by the impact of these changes.”

AFI’s commitment to the military is evident in their insurance programs too. They offer competitive rates and coverage that is useful for a variety of military family situations. Alvarado personally uses AFI for his renter’s insurance. Upon moving to Washington, he learned that their downtown loft required them to carry renter’s insurance. The first place he went was AFI. “Their pricing was competitive. Their support has been top-notch. Insurance is a requirement, so if I can work with a company that supports the military community and offers great rates, then it’s a no-brainer.” 

This article is sponsored by Armed Forces Insurance.